Made in Britain, palm oil and paraben free, ‘Evolution’ is the debut fragrance from men’s grooming brand, Kings. A mix of essential oils including patchouli, cardamom, vetiver, copaiba, ylang ylang and eucalyptus, Evolution has been approved by the Vegan Society and by Cruelty Free Bunny.
Started by founder, Blué O’Connor, as a result of a successful crowd-funding campaign, Kings will be helping to fund two charities in Blué’s hometown of Bristol, Mentoring Plus and Bristol Mind, as well as the national male suicide-prevention charity, Calm.
Left - Kings - Evolution 50ml EDT - £39.99, 10ml EDT - £14.99, 1.7ml EDT Sample Bottle - £2.49
TheChicGeek says, “Price isn’t a signifier of anything anymore, especially in fragrance, and this is great value.
This is really good. It starts with a liquoricey top which turns into an attractive warm rubber. I’m not crazy about the branding, but nobody sees that when their salivating around your neck!
It is suppose to smell like a jungle in bloom, but it’s drier than that. It’s a slow mover from the top to the base, but the journey keeps you engaged. It’s a calming fragrance which also complements its mental health connections. In a nutshell, it smells like sexy car mats!"
Disclosure - The product was gifted by Kings to review
The new Aqua Blade from Wahl is waterproof so it can be used wet and dry and cuts 60% closer than standard trimmer blades at just 0.2mm, so it won’t cause irritation like a traditional razor. It is fully washable, with closer cutting, self-sharpening blades, speedy charging and twelve different guide combs.
You get 180 minutes use from a 60 minute charge plus a 1 minute quick charge for 3 minutes use.
Left - Wahl - Aqua Blade - £59.99
TheChicGeek says, “Pronounced ‘Wall’, the brand almost has a monopoly on the clippers in the barber’s, but I’ve never actually tried one of their domestic products at home. Still family owned, the American company’s clippers are loved by the professionals and all made in their own factories. This particular one is ‘Made in USA’, so, the Donald will be happy!
I thought I’d try this in the bath, as it’s waterproof, and it helps deal with hair flying everywhere. You don’t need to read any instructions. It’s very simple. Just one on and off button and that’s it. I didn’t put any of the clipper heads on and it can be used on the face and the body.
It feels really strong and is one of the most solid home hair clippers I’ve tried. It has a simple steel plate holding the blades which is screwed to the main body of the device.
It’s a simple design, but, really, what more do you need? If there was a clipper emoji, then this is what it would look like. It doesn't look very 2018, but who cares when it does the job. I think some manufacturers of these types of things get too caught up in design and gimmicks and forget about the simple elements of power and easy cleaning.
The only negative. The charge didn’t last long, it must have been charging for maybe 30 minutes, and, I presume, due to its strength, it gets through the charge fairly quickly. The one thing I would like to see is how much charge it has left, so you know when it’s just about to run out. Otherwise, it’s guesswork.
This is a reliable, quality and strong clipper for guys who want function over style”.
Looking for a new trimmer? See more unbiased Chic Geek reviews here
Founded by footballers, Mathieu Flamini and Mesut Özil, UNITY, is a new men’s grooming brand that has been “designed to put people’s health and our planet on the right path to a sustainable future".
The range is comprised of 11 vegan friendly products that feature the highest grade of up to 100% natural origin formulations free from SLS & SLES, parabens, PEGS, mineral oil, silicones, synthetic colours and artificial fragrance for maximum results and performance.
In a bid to reduce the use of virgin plastic, the brand sought out a bio-plastic alternative made from sugar cane that is 100% recyclable, thus minimising the carbon footprint of the brand. Alongside the product, UNITY strives to keep sustainability at its core throughout the business, with customer deliveries arriving in fully recycled craft boxes with bio-degradable and non-toxic starch chips as packing fill.
The brand also believes in the importance of giving back, with 1% of all company revenues going towards causes that seek to make a true difference to people and planet
Left - UNITY - Hair Boost – Shampoo, £10.95, Body Boost – Shower Wash, £8.95, Skin Defence – Face Moisturiser, £11.90, Skin Detox – Face Wash, £10.95
TheChicGeek says, “In our post Blue Planet world, plastic is vilified as the devil of all packaging. If only solving our plastics problem resolved the whole of our environmental issues… But, we have to start somewhere and these guys seem passionate about this subject.
Surely the most environmentally packaged grooming product ever is the humble bar of soap? Used for millennia, is it not the reason Lush made all their products solid? The problem with trying to care for the environment is - and, let’s be honest, anything in the right direction is a good thing - you put yourself out there to be ripped apart. Anything packaged and part of consumerism can be lambasted for simply existing. I think it’s important to say you care, but you also have to acknowledge you’re part of the problem. People will still need to wash and clean themselves and how a brand facilitates this can be minimised. Ernest Supplies’ pouches spring to mind.
Launching with 11 products isn’t really saying "minimal" to me, especially when there’s a shower wash for the morning and and separate one for the evening. (British people only shower twice a day on holiday, FYI).
The main parts of the tubes are made from sugar cane, - Bulldog is another brand I know who is using this too - but the tops are a 25% mix and there’s a beard oil in a glass jar. This goes back to the main problem we have of mixed recycling issues.
The branding is pretty nondescript - it feels a bit 10 years ago - and the packaging is a bit anonymous and generic. There’s no indication of the main ingredients on each product, leaving you to guess the main scent, and saying ’99% Natural Origin’ just makes you think what’s in the other 1% then?
As for the products, they’re not bad and I think they offer value. I tried 4 out of the 11. I sampled the face wash, shampoo, body wash and moisturiser. It feels natural, hence the looseness of some of the consistencies, and the smells are light and not overpowering.
I like the smell of the face wash and moisturiser. The former is a mineral clay in a light toffee colour and the latter is coconut. There’s no lingering smell from the body wash.
This feels like a reliable range, I just wished they’d tried to be more dynamic with the branding and packaging to reflect the passion they have and also to standout in a crowded market. Whispering your green credentials won't change anything”.
Below - UNITY Founders Mathieu Flamini and Mesut Özil
TheChicGeek says, “You’ve probably seen this brand before. This is L’Oréal relaunching the men’s grooming brand, Baxter of California, back into Europe. Established in 1965, it is one of the oldest men’s grooming brands and was acquired by the huge beauty conglomerate, L’Oréal, in 2012. (They’ve been hoovering up a lot of brands over the last few years).
The thing I remember most about Baxter of California was the metal tubes. It gave them a retro and quality feel. These are now gone, though the packaging looks similar and I still like it. I don’t actually remember the products themselves.
Left - Some of the vast Baxter of California range
It’s a big range, but feels reliable. I tried the Oil Free Moisturiser, which I really liked and they also do an SPF option which is great. The Citrus & Herbal-Musk Deodorant, is an alcohol and Aluminum-free stick sensitive skin. I also tried a not very memorable body wash, and, the deep cleansing, black bar of soap. These could both do with a stronger and more longer lasting quality fragrance especially at these prices. Men expect and desire this, now, especially when paying a premium.
The pricing is relatively high, with similar prices to that other L’Oréal brand, Kiehl’s.
It’s simple and easy to understand, which is good, but I’d like to see more of its background and history in its products. Where’s my California sun? Which ones are new? Which ones are your heroes? This brand would be perfect to tap the outdoor/active feel that grooming should be heading in.
If I was going to pinpoint one standout product, then it's the Oil Free Moisturiser.
I’d rather buy this than L’Oréal’s new men’s brand, House 99. Read why here
Right - Everybody loves sunshine - Baxter of California needs to push more of its heritage. Or make some up?!
Azzaro’s Wanted By Night is a woody-oriental-spicy eau de parfum created by Quentin Bisch and Michel Girard and is a new twist on the original 'Wanted' released a couple of years ago.
A woody base note is brought on by white cedar. The juiciness of a sparkling mandarin, zested with a hint of its nectar, is mixed with warm, spicy cinnamon notes and the woody tonalities of cedarwood.
Left - Wanted's controversial bottle. Maybe it's a big seller in the US?! Azzaro Wanted By Night - 50ml - EDP - £46
Red cedarwood’s explosive charisma and the flamboyance of cumin, creates a heart crafted in precious woods with a warm, nectary tobacco blend is reinforced with Atlas cedarwood.
TheChicGeek says, “When you get to my age it should be more Wanted By Teatime! This has a sticky, synthetic smell, which I like. Nothing smells natural about this which I find more interesting.
The cinnamon gives it a youthful and warming edge. There aren’t any layers here. It is, what it is, then disappears relatively quickly, especially for an eau de parfum.
The bottle, which is the shape of a fully-loaded gun chamber, got quite a lot of flack when it first appeared two years ago, but it does look slightly better here with darker juice. The advert, on the other hand, looks like a 16 year old’s version of sophisticated. Don’t get me started about that eyebrow…”
Right - Who signs this stuff off? *raises eyebrow*
What they’ve done with, I’m guessing, limited visual material is remarkable. Even a featured Andy Warhol art film/doc is of such bad quality it looks like the first season of Rupaul’s Drag Race. So they’ve done well to find enough contemporary film footage or pictures to fill this and keep your attention. Obviously, there are new interviews with people who were there at the time, but it’s sad and disappointing that the two main characters are no longer with us.
Left - Antonio & Jerry
I’d heard of Antonio Lopez before and was aware of his style of drawing. I knew the era he was producing in, but that was about all. I didn’t really know who he worked with and for whom.
James Crump’s documentary centres on Paris and New York between 1969 and 1973, viewed through the eyes of Antonio Lopez (1943-1987). A native of Puerto Rico and raised in The Bronx, the story centres on him and his personal and creative partner, Juan Ramos (1942-1995).
Being an illustrator Lopez would never have been in the public eye personally, unlike many of the designers he was copying. His illustrations were well known, but it felt like he was always at the mercy of the commission, whether that was for a magazine or fashion house.
Right - Lopez's partner, Juan Ramos
Unlike Warhol, who also started as an illustrator, Lopez didn’t push himself centre stage. Warhol knew there was money to be made in people’s narcissism and vanity. Lopez seems to stick to the safety of what he knows. Maybe there wasn't enough time, well, between all the shagging, at least!
I like how the documentary moves between New York and Paris, but I wanted more from the main disco time of the late 70s and early 80s. The disco is Paris’ Club Sept, but you don't really get a feel for the place.
It gets wrapped up quickly at the end without the same level of detail. What was he working on? Did he fall out of fashion?
There is a brief moment when you feel like you’re watching a documentary about YSL and Karl Lagerfeld. (Love the beef between these two). These giant fashion planets pulled many different stars into their orbit and Lopez and his entourage of models and lovers were just some of them.
It was fun to see and hear from the group of female models Lopez championed - there's one who reminds me of Angie Bowie - and would have looked mega diverse even by today’s standards. The documentary is worth watching just for Jerry Hall’s arrival. Man, was that one beautiful woman. There are models and, then, there are supermodels. She’s like Botticelli’s Venus combine with a classical Greek siren with a dash of Texan Barbie. She’s captivating, especially in this where she's just starting out on her modelling career. This is where the film starts to end. It’s a shame, along with Grace Jones and Karl Lagerfeld, that she isn't interviewed for the film.
Lagerfeld seemed to distance himself at the end of Lopez’s career which is probably why he’s lasted so long in the fashion business. I imagine you have to be pretty cold and heartless in order to maintain your position. In the film he uses Lopez to illustrate his work at Chloe, and, being good at what he does, he knew they were the zeitgeist of the time and then when to drop them, accordingly.
Upsetting the photographer, Bill Cunningham, who is a prominent interviewee in the film, Lagerfeld wasn’t there when Lopez was diagnosed with AIDS.
The film is definitely an extensive insight into Lopez's fashion circles of the late 60s, 70s and early 80s: who knew who, who fucked who and who made it through. There are, annoyingly, not enough recorded visuals of his process and you want to hear more from the man himself. You don’t get a feeling of how much he produced and how his magazine illustrations complemented the fashion of the time. The artworks look like a mix between 70s Art Nouveau and porn illustrations, but you can see his precocious talent.
The film, again, illustrates how much talent we lost during the AIDS crisis and also fulfils our insatiable thirst for retro glamour. We live in age where we are obsessed with looking backwards at talented and beautiful people, quenching our need for what we feel today's modern landscape is sadly lacking.
Left - One of Lopez's illustrations
See #ChicGeekComment Is ‘Peak Fashion Documentary’ Killing The Fashion Tome?
Ordo says they want to revolutionise the dental hygiene market with their online subscription service and streamlined electric toothbrush ‘Starter Pack’, containing the Ordo aluminium electric toothbrush, travel cap, 80ml whitening & sensitive toothpaste (2-month supply), 25ml travel toothpaste (2-week supply), portable silicon stand and AAA battery, which all fits conveniently through your letterbox.
The Ordo toothbrush has an aluminium anodised handle and uses sonic pulse technology with one-speed setting allowing brushing at the optimal speed with 25,000 pulses per minute; while a two-minute timer signals every thirty seconds as a reminder to cover all four quadrants of your mouth for the best brushing technique as advised by dental experts.
Left & Below Right - Ordo - Starter Pack - Available in three different colour ways – Silver, Rose Gold and Charcoal Grey - £30
Being battery-operated means there are no messy cables or charging ports. It’s travel friendly: at the gym, work or travelling remotely.
New heads will be delivered straight to your door every two months as part of their subscription plan alongside new batteries.
The 'Refill Pack’ delivered every 2 months for £10 includes an Ordo brush head, travel cap, AAA battery, 80ml whitening & sensitive toothpaste and 25ml whitening & sensitive travel toothpaste. You can cancel or modify your plan anytime.
TheChicGeek says, “Firstly, this is a really good idea: a subscription toothcare service sending brush heads, batteries and toothpaste. I’m surprised somebody, especially one of the big boys, hasn’t thought of this before. We never change our brush heads enough and buying the branded ones are really expensive. This makes it easy and the prices are pretty good.
I’m glad it’s using sonic pulse cleaning as this is my preferred type of toothbrush. The others always seem a bit digger truck to me.
The positives: great idea, good design, neat, small and travel friendly. Negative, and it’s a big one, it’s not a very satisfying clean. It’s too weak and therefore the brush is too soft. I tried it for 3 days, but it just wasn’t as good as my Philips Sonicare and I was pining after it.
Ordo has got everything else going for it, I particularly like the Millennial pink stand, it just needs more strength.”
‘CliniqueFit’ is a ‘carefully curated line of athletic-inspired, high performance skin care that’s long-wearing and designed to fit seamlessly into your on-the-go lifestyle’.
TheChicGeek says, “Gym bunnies are active consumers, so, not only is this timely, but commercially focussed. This is a brand thinking about where their consumers live their lives, today, and how they want to look during and after working out.
The majority of products in the range are make-up so I was only sent the 'Workout Face + Body Hydrating Spray' to try. There are seven products in the full range. I put it in my gym coat pocket and used it after every class.
It is a water-based, non-stick and oil-free formula spray designed to instantly refresh and hydrate parched skin. It’s said to absorb quickly and leave skin feeling soft and comfortable with a healthy glow.
It’s definitely light and absorbs quickly, but I didn’t notice any after glow and it’s not a refreshing as you want it to be. This is probably one of the rare times I want something fragrant and uplifting, and not fragrance-free from Clinique. I’m thinking something cleansing, spa or Aveda like, which works well in these wet sprays, making you want to use them more while putting a post-workout spring into your step.”
Left - CliniqueFit Workout Face + Body Hydrating Spray - 30ml - £13
Available exclusively to Selfridges, Brown Thomas Dublin and Clinique.co.uk.
Bulldog Skincare For Men has added a fragrance-free and gentle face scrub to their ‘Sensitive’ range. The new, skin-smoothing scrub contains sustainably sourced quinoa husk - a by-product of the food industry - sweet almond, baobab and oat oil, and willow herb. It helps to improve skin texture by removing dead skin and leaving a fresh complexion.
Left - Bulldog Skincare For Men - Sensitive Face Scrub - £5
Baobab oil has a high emollient power and is known for its skin smoothing and moisturising properties. Oat oil, grown and harvested in the UK, is known for its effective skin emollience and natural skin softening properties. Canadian willow herb, a unique plant from the Northern Canadian prairies, has developed strong multi-functional phytochemical properties to survive the harsh climate.
TheChicGeek says, “This looks and smells good enough to squirt on your breakfast cereal. The recommended usage is once to twice a week or pre-shave, but I’d say you can use as often as you like.
It’s soft and gentle and being ‘sensitive’, it’s less likely to irritate even the most sensitive of skin. You can feel the ‘beads’, but it’s not coarse at all. If you like your face scrubs like sandpaper then this probably isn't for you.
I also like the fact Bulldog’s new packaging is now made from sugarcane."
Inspired by Epigenetic - (Dictionary definition) relating to or arising from non-genetic influences on gene expression - science, QMS’ EpiGen Daily-Detox Serum has been specifically designed to address the damage increasing levels of pollution is having on our skin.
Central to its formula is the innovative Epigenetic-Peptide which mimics the function of Royalactin (royal jelly protein), this has a positive effect on the regeneration of the epidermis and in combination with the other advanced-performance ingredients delivers targeted action against the impact of pollution on the skin. Key ingredients include PCW-Skin Relaxing Extract from the Swiss stone pine which reduces local redness and age spots, resulting in a more even skin appearance, Matrikine Complex, a special messenger peptide (matrikines) playing a role in skin repair processes and GCI-Peptide which maintains genomic integrity by protecting and repairing DNA damage.
Left - !QMS - EpiGen Daily-Detox Serum - 30ml - £167 (30ml)
TheChicGeek says, i “I hadn’t heard of QMS before, so this was the first product I’ve tried. I was fortunate to meet the brains behind the brand, Dr. Erich Schulte. A plastic surgeon from Germany, he founded QMS to get his patients’ skin into tip-top shape before they went under the knife. Ouch.
He says one of the biggest stressors of skin, after UV damage, is pollution and with London’s current problem, this is easy to believe. The rising levels of microscopic pollutant particles in the air can lead to skin irritations, increased sensitivity, hyper-pigmentation, premature skin ageing, clogged pores and acne. These particles are so small they can penetrate right down to the epidermis and this is where the damage starts.
Schulte says, “The highly innovative active ingredient complex in EpiGen Daily-Detox Serum helps to deactivate the negative chemical markings that are having a detrimental impact on the skin whilst accelerating epidermal regeneration, activating the cellular cleaning process and delaying skin aging.”
This goes on once a day, in the morning, under your moisturiser. It’s probably one of the most expensive products I’ve tried - £167 for 30ml!!
It’s good, but it’s hard not to be shy with it when you think about how expensive it is. Though, as it’s once-a-day, it should last a reasonable amount of time.
QMS stands for 'quick magic skin', and Dr. Schulte says the exclamation mark, before !QMS, was inspired by German designer, Wolfgang Joop - JOOP!. He thought it would intrigued people to know more about his nascent skincare brand.
These Doctor brands just keep getting bigger and bigger, as people want to pay for the science rather than the packaging, brand and marketing campaign. This is definitely one to keep an eye on.”